Takeda scrambles to fix glitches in Contrave direct-delivery launch

Takeda Pharmaceuticals saw a problem with recent obesity drug launches: Cost. Private insurers and public payers were refusing coverage--or foisting big copays onto patients--dragging down new drugs marketed by Vivus ($VVUS) and Eisai.

So, when Takeda rolled out Orexigen's ($OREX) new obesity drug Contrave a few weeks ago, the Japanese drugmaker also rolled out a direct-delivery program, Direct Save. Cash patients whose insurance won't cover the drug pay $70 each month for the first two months, and $60 monthly after that. For privately insured patients, the copay is $55 per month for the first two months, and $45 a month after that.

If cost had been a barrier for Eisai's Belviq and Vivus' Qsymia, then Takeda meant to remove the barrier for Contrave.

And it worked--too well. Fewer than three weeks into the launch, more than 5,000 prescriptions had been sent into the Direct Save system. The program's website couldn't handle the volume of registrations. The backup call center couldn't deal with the number of callers. Read more from FiercePharmaMarketing >>